Monday, May 31, 2010

Register Endorsements

A few random thoughts on this Memorial Day Monday...

The Des Moines Register tops many of my thoughts...
Did you catch that story on Iowa Republicans in Sunday's paper? It offered a quote from former Lt. Governor Joy Corning, a to a picture...of former Lt. Governor Sally Pederson, the Democrat. Oops. The Register offered a correction in Monday's paper for the mistaken photo.

The endorsements... I'm curious what the paper's endorsements will mean in this primary. Republican Terry Branstad received the paper's endorsement in the race for governor. Does that help or hurt in with the far-right conservatives who have had questions about whether he is conservative enough when they see a lefty-newspaper pick Branstad as the best candidate? Just wondering...

The paper went with Mark Rees in the 3rd District Republican Congressional race. There are 7 people in this race, although most people I talked with only expect 3 or so to have much of a showing. If that's the case...was Rees one of those 3 before? Or will this endorsement bump up his recognition enough to get him in the top 3? Rees is likely the most moderate candidate for his party...fiscal conservative and social moderate. Will enough of those types of voters come out in a primary that often gets dominated by more conservative voters? Can Rees convince enough people that his type of candidacy has the best chance of beating incumbent Democratic Congressman Leonard Boswell this November?

And how about that slap of Roxanne Conlin the paper gave? Conlin is by far the most well-known and well-financed of the 3 Democrats in the U.S. Senate Race. Yet, the paper went with former state legislator, Tom Fiegen. Who saw that coming? Will the endorsement give Fiegen's long-shot campaign enough of a boost to push past her or will it be too little, too late? Either way, it's tough for Conlin's campaign to spin this snub as a good thing.

Speaking of that race...have you noticed Republican Senator Chuck Grassley started running tv ads? He doesn't have a primary, of course. But it's interesting the long-time leader feels the need to spend money now. Is it to counter some of the worst approval numbers of his time in office? Grassley usually destroys his opponents come election time, so is this a sign he thinks this year won't be as easy?

For the Love of the Game... Major League Baseball's blackout policy is a joke. And many of us aren't laughing. Yes, I'm biased here. But TBS carried the Cardinals-Cubs afternoon game Sunday. But Mediacom customers couldn't watch it. Instead, we got to watch CNN Headline News on that channel, as well as the regular channel that carried Headline News. Hey, I will watch the news there, but seriously, I don't need to see it on two channels at once! Why, black the game out here, MLB? We are more than 5 hours away from both Chicago and St. Louis. Blackout rules shouldn't apply to us in central Iowa. It makes no sense. All you do is drive people away from baseball at a time so many young people are instead tuning into the faster-paced sports like football and basketball. Nice move, Bud Selig. This Bud is not for you, Mr. Commissioner.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Krause to Miss Debate; Bring on Strawberries!

That three-person debate in Cedar Rapids tonight just lost someone. Bob Krause's campaign sent out a release that his plane had mechanical problems and won't be able to get him to Cedar Rapids for the debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Johnson County, and The Cedar Rapids Gazette. Krause's campaign said he had the plane problems trying to fly out of Little Rock. A later flight from little Rock would have put him in Cedar Rapids at nearly midnight, hours after the debate ended. So he found a new connection that took him to Dallas with the hopes Mediacom (the cable company televising the debate) could "satellite" his appearance back from Dallas to Cedar Rapids. But the campaign said that wasn't worked out. So Krause had to pull out of the debate. So you might say...Krause was headed for the big "D", but he does mean Dallas. (yeah, that's some lame attempt at humor for you country fans:)

And then there were two... Let's see if Fiegen creates any of the drama he brought to the Channel 13 news studio this past Monday.

Here's my favorite announcement of the day. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey sent out a release to say strawberries are on the way! When I was little, my dad had a big garden. And strawberries covered nearly half our backyard. It was heaven. Although, I'm sure as a dumb, young kid I complained about picking them. I'm sure I never complained about eating them, of course. Mom would cut them up and put them in a big bowl with sugar and let them sit all day in the fridge. It made a great dessert that night! I could probably eat strawberries every day. Bring them on!

Here's Northey's release:
Bumper Iowa-grown crop expected this year

DES MOINES – Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey today said fresh, Iowa-grown strawberries are expected to be in their prime for picking this Memorial Day weekend. Many growers are reporting a plentiful crop this year.

“Sweet and delicious Iowa-grown strawberries are a great start to the summer season and visiting a local ‘You Pick’ operation is a great way to enjoy them as a family,” Northey said. “By shopping Iowa-grown products when they are in season you get the best flavor, prices and nutritional value.”

Strawberries are one of the world’s most popular fruits being consumed by 94% of all U.S. households. They are also a healthy option, serving as a great source of Vitamin C, are low in calories and fat-free.

Fresh strawberries can be picked as part of a family outing at one of the many “You Pick” operations around the state, or when shopping at your local farmers market. It is good to call before going to a “You Pick” farm to make sure fields aren’t too wet to access the strawberries.

To get the best berries:
Look for strawberries with their green caps intact
Strawberries will not continue to ripen after they are picked and are best when eaten within a few days
The prime strawberry season has begun, so don’t delay in contacting a local grower to find if they have fresh strawberries read to be picked. To find strawberry farms in your area visit .

Once you have the strawberries home they are versatile enough to be eaten fresh or served in your favorite dessert or salad. One simple recipe that is great for a Memorial Day gathering is chocolate dipped strawberries. The recipe follows here:

Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
16 oz. milk chocolate chips
2 T shortening
1 lb fresh strawberries with leaves
Directions: Insert toothpicks in to the tops of strawberries. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and shortening, stirring occasionally until smooth. Holding them by the toothpicks, dip the strawberries into the chocolate mixture. Turn the strawberries upside down and insert into Styrofoam cup for the chocolate to cool.
(recipe obtained from

Branstad's New Ad

In between all those Jamie Lee Curtis Activia yogurt commercials (Activiaaaaaaaaaah!) Iowa has a little ad war going on right now. But first, a word from our sponsors...

And now, just for fun...

O.K., now where was I? Oh, yeah, the ad wars. An anti-Terry Branstad group has been running one, ripping on Branstad's previous time as governor. Branstad has countered with one. It features State Auditor Dave Vaudt, who endorsed Branstad in the primary (seems like a pretty good sign that he feels comfortable Branstad will win. Otherwise, why would he stick his neck out like this in a Republican primary?) I'll leave it up to you to say whether the ad works or doesn't work. But check it out and see if you notice something that sounds a little "off"...

Notice anything? How does an ad promoting a prominent endorsement for Branstad feature an announcer who mispronounces that prominent endorsement's name? The announcer pronounces Vaudt's name vaaht. Vaudt pronounces his name vowt. How does that happen? In case you wondered, the announcer did say Branstad's name correctly. I suppose that is the most important part:)

Here's your video and audio proof of how Vaudt says his name:

Monday, May 24, 2010

Fiegen vs. Conlin vs. Krause

We wondered whether we would see any drama today. We had Roxanne Conlin sitting at a table with Tom Fiegen on her left and Bob Krause on her right. They picked for their seating assignments before we began the hour-long live show, "Conversations with the Candidates", a joint project between WHO-HD (yeah, that's our station's new cool name. Did you know we are the only commercial tv station in Iowa broadcasting in high-definition. Yeah, that's right!) and the Des Moines Register. Obviously, Conlin is the favorite in this race: she has more money in her personal and campaign bank accounts, is a former candidate for governor and has way more name i.d. than either of the former Iowa lawmakers, Fiegen and Krause. So would one of them need to go after her aggressively in our hour-long show? We didn't even need to wait until the show started to find out.

It all started with Fiegen and an employee with the Register. The employee had reminded the candidates the rules they had all agreed to follow before the event. That included no water bottles on the table (no biggie since my boss made sure each candidate had a glass of water) and then notes. Fiegen apparently wanted notes. He walked in carrying one of those accordian-like file folders, presumably full of some type of notes or papers. He and the Register employee went back and forth, four or five times on whether he should be able to leave his notes on the table. Fiegen's voice gradually rose until he turned to Conlin standing next to him. And then he let loose. Fiegen started yelling at Conlin and said her campaign had dictated the rules of this event and he hadn't agreed to them. Conlin, in a much quieter voice than Fiegen's shouts, denied the allegation, as did the Register employee. Again. When faced with the option of either not using his notes or not taking part in the event, Fiegen, red-faced and sweaty, chose to sit down and follow the rules. Drama over.

I always watch for moments (besides that one, I mean!). Two stick out to me from this morning's show. Fiegen came after Conlin, criticizing her for taking $20 million worth of tax credits for her family's business that builds low and moderate-income housing in the Des Moines area. Conlin countered by saying they provide affordable housing for people who struggling to find it and that Fiegen apparently really didn't understand how tax credits work. I'm curious what viewers thought of the exchange. Did Fiegen score on that one or did Conlin too easily deflect the attempt? Here's video of the event. You can always watch in on tv Sunday morning at 9 on Channel 13.

All three candidates during the show said they would support raising the income levels at which people get taxed for social security. But then afterwards, Conlin's campaign sent out a statement that said this, "In the debate, I meant only to note some of the things that the Deficit Commission is considering. The last thing we need are additional Social Security taxes."

Will the other candidates pounce on this? What do you think?

What is your moment from the show?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

iowa GOP Governors' Debate, Part 3

Phew...the third and final Iowa GOP governors' debate is finished.

What stuck out to you? Plenty of drama between Bob Vander Plaats and Terry Branstad. Vander Plaats kept coming after Branstad numerous times, sometimes unexpectedly so on questions you may not have assumed would take a turn that way. Did it work for him? Did he score some points or did he look like he was just a flame-thrower looking for something to light Branstad's fire? What do you think? Good day for Team VP?

Branstad probably has a sore neck from all the head-shaking he was doing. He didn't hide his dissatisfaction of what Vander P was saying. He didn't have the outbursts he did during the Iowa Broadcast News Association's debate in Cedar Rapids. Remember that, when he'd yell out: "That's not true!" Seems like he held his composure more this time. But, the bigger question is, did he help himself by showing he wouldn't let Vander Plaats' attacks go without response? Or should he have avoided engaging with Vander Plaats and focused more on showing what he would do as governor and reassuring conservatives that he is, indeed, one of them and will cut spending, lower taxes (or more importantly to them, not RAISE taxes).

Roberts seemed to use his chance to point out (after all the VP and TB drama) that Iowans don't want politics as usual and want someone who can unite. Did you catch his final words when he said, "Am I the kind of person you want to see as your governor?"

And kudos to Kathie Obradovich, Kay Henderson and Dean Borg. Great format for the debate. It really moved along. We learned a lot about the candidates, their behaviors and even some differences.

Now, what did you think? Who helped himself? Who hurt himself?

Iowa GOP Governors' Debate, Part 3

Closing comments...

VP: Iowans not willing to re-hired the current with failed policies of the past. I will grow this economy the right way and shrink government.

RR: I have the leadership skills and temperament. They don't want politics as usual. Am I the kind of person you want to see as your next governor?

TB: Iowans want an honest and conservative leader again.

Iowa GOP Governors' Debate, Part 3

Do you anticipate abortion will be a big issue this fall?

TB: yes. I'm very pro-life. My son, Marcus, born on anniversary of Roe V Wade.

RR: yes. because people hold such strong feelings.

VP: yes. culver on the wrong side of this issue.

IOwa GOP Governors' Debate, Part 3

Lightning Round. Yes or no (or a few more words that than)

Refrain from federal health care reform.

VP: yes. TB: yes. RR: yes.

Would you require a woman to view a sonogram before getting an abortion.

All said, yes.

Will you require judges to oppose gay marriage and abortion.

RR and VP: yes. TB: don't think governor has authority to do that.

Would you encourage voters to oppose retention of judges who were part of same sex decision:

VP: yes. TB: up to the voters. RR: yes.

Should Iowa have fewer than 99 counties?

TB: no. RR: no (I think) VP: no ( think)

Would you ban same sex couples from adopting children

RR: yes. VP: yes. TB: should be in best interests of child. didn't say yes or no.

Would you reduce number of legislators and judges:

VP: yes. TB: yes. RR: yes in legislature , maybe allow 2 more justices.

Death penalty in Iowa:

TB: yes. RR: no. VP: yes.

Repeal minimum wage law in Iowa

All said, no.

IOwa GOP Governors' Debate, Part 3

What is your long-term plan for financing roads and repairs in Iowa?

RR: some of money for infrastructure has been diverted.

VP: retire debt not tied to gambling revenue.

TB: i believe in pay as you go, not bonding system.

IOwa GOP Governors' Debate, Part 3

Will you offer property tax plans to lower rates for residential?

TB: restore fiscal responsibility. (don't think I heard specifics)

RR: slow down rate of growth on real-estate taxes. we have required property tax payers to pay more and more of the load. state should look at taking on more of that load.

VP: yes. need to free up business and industry.

Branstad shaking head, no. Said VP doesn't have the facts right.

IOwa GOP Governors' Debate, Part 3

Name 2 specific programs you would cut

VP: Benefits to illegal immigrants. Look at AEA.

TB: Funding for groups like Planned Parenthood. Eliminate funding for AEA. Partner with non-profits and others for pre-school.

RR: Eliminate state-funding/benefits for illegal adults. Sell of excess state vehicle fleet. Eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood.

IOwa GOP Governors' Debate, Part 3

If elected governor, would you feel obligated to implement Republican Party platform?

TB: Iowans need jobs. Focus will be on what state needs rather than focusing on platform.

RR: I am a conservative. First priority is to serve people of Iowa. People come before party. I will support Republican nominee, whoever that it. That's about being part of the team, a Republican team. It's the people you serve, not the party.

VP: People looking for leadership. Criticizes Branstad for picking a pro-choice Lt. Gov Joy Corning. Branstad comes back with: I think it's unfortunate who attack other candidates. She did a good job back then.

IOwa GOP Governors' Debate, Part 3

What is your biggest political mistake and what did you learn?

Vander Plaats: Said Branstad told him best way to beat an incumbent is too be a candidate with no political record. Branstad shaking head, "not true, not true". Branstad, "obviously your memory is not very good". I never said anything like you claim....your recollection is wrong or you are flat-out lying".

Vander P said it was March 14, 2000. He was at Branstad's house with VP's wife, Darla.

Roberts: The kind of dialogue we hear today is the kind of talk Iowans say we need to move past (sorry, this isn't the exact verbatum)
I ran in 1998 and lost by handful of votes. I could have worked harder.

IOwa GOP Governors' Debate, Part 3

Candidate to Candidate question now (this could get interesting!)

Roberts asked Branstad if he would join him in promising he wouldn't raise taxes over the next 4 years. Branstad said, yes, and that he would pledge to work to lower taxes.

No drama here.

Vander Plaats asked Branstad question (Branstad not even looking at him when he asks questions)
Vander P asks why Iowans should trust Branstad with their money.

Branstad said current State Auditor, Dave Vaudt, has studied all three candidates and supported me. Vander Plaats coming after Branstad about overspending in office, exceeding 99% spending limitations. Branstad repeatedly shakes his head, no. (It's on, baby!)

Branstad gets to ask question to Roberts...of the people who served with in legislature the most, who do you admire the most and who is the leader you don't? (softball question from Branstad to Roberts)

Roberts: Speaker of the House Brent Siegrist, who gave me time to get into leadership in house. Current Speaker Pat Murphy is the person he has least respect in his leadership style.
Branstad said Roberts' answer is "spot-on". Interestingly, Branstad did look at Roberts when those two men talk

IOwa GOP Governors' Debate, Part 3

What should be done to hold businesses more accountable that employ illegal immigrants?

Branstad--Do what they are doing in Postville. The new owner of that meatpacking plant requires employer verification. Enforce the law and make sure tools are in business that people who work for a business are legally eligible.

Roberts--Enforce the laws and enforce punitive measures, particularly fines. Additional punitive measures possible, but he didn't really say anything specific about what those should be.

Vander Plaats--Businesses that knowingly hire illegals, they should be held accountable. He would proposed Arizona-style illegal immigration law.

Does IA need additional immigration here to meet business needs?

Vander P--no. Need to market state as right-to-work state.

Branstad--Need to keep more of our Iowa graduates to stay here. Yes, he would allow more legal immigrants to come here. (Hey, we finally have a clear difference among the candidates here!)

Roberts--not sure what his answer was. Don't think he said yes or no.

IOwa GOP Governors' Debate, Part 3

What regulation affecting small businesses would you press to repeal?

Vander Plaats--Anything not conducive to growth. (Moderator Kay Henderson asked for specific regulations--didn't really mention anything. He did say something about septic tanks, but I didn't quite follow it. I will have to watch that answer again to see if I can get it.)

Branstad--Repeal that you can't do your own wiring on your farm.

Roberts--Streamline business application forms.

Iowa GOP Governors' Debate, Part 3

Would you favor incentives if demanded by a big firm to relocate?

Roberts wants to cut corporate income tax. Would look at targeted tax credits on case by case basis.

Vander Plaats also wants to cut corporate income tax and cut capital gains tax. Didn't really answer if he would look at tax credits.

Branstad reduce commercial property taxes. Would personally call businesses looking to come here. Will work with local governments for incentives.

Iowa GOP Governors' Debate

Pre-game time as we wait for the three Republicans running for Iowa governor to take part in The Great Debate, Part 3. Here are a few things I'm watching:

Does Terry Branstad keep his cool this time? He appeared visibly and sometimes loudly annoyed with Bob Vander Plaats when BVP messed up his history lesson. Vander Plaats wrongly asserted then-State Senator (and now Congressman) Steve King sued then-Governor Tom Vilsack for issuing an executive order that let felons vote. Not so.

Will Vander Plaats keep trying to push Branstad? Will he criticize him heavily in a last-ditch chance to overtake him before his statewide audience? Will he try to get Branstad to get all riled up?

Will Rod Roberts keep the nice guy thing going? Or does he have to try to make some news and come after his opponents a little harder? It seems like Roberts has targeted Vander P more than Branstad, where Vander P comes after Branstad more. Is that a sign of which audience each candidate is trying to target?

Let's get it on!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Tea Party Debate

Tea partiers get a little street cred tonight in Des Moines. The Des Moines Tea Party hosts its first debate for the 7 Republican candidates for Iowa's 3rd District. Although, only 4 of the 7 candidates plan to show up: Pat Bertroche, Scott Batcher, Brad Zaun and Dave Funk. Jim Gibbons, Mark Reese and Jason Lee Welch notified organizers they would not attend. Funk would seem to have the home-field advantage. Funk's political director, Ryan Rhodes, was the chairman of the Tea Party Patriots.

(Tea partiers, if you go to the debate tonight, please get on here and let us know who impressed you and who didn't.)

What kind of impact will the tea partiers have this year? They are definitely a passionate bunch. Can they channel that anger toward the primary? And even more challenging, perhaps, can they stay engaged all the way through the November election? If so, and, if, they unite people who haven't been voting recently, they could affect close races at the ballot box.

For the Love of the Game...

O.K., seriously, my Cardinals stink! It is beyond me why they can't hit better than they do. Is it time for a shakeup? It feels too early for that, but something needs to jar this team a bit. Perhaps, Felipe Lopez will offer something when he comes off the disabled list as early as Monday. They need someone to offer a spark. I hope he can do it. Brendan Ryan is an automatic out right now. Although, Skip Schumaker does seem to be finding his swing. And what about Matt Holliday? Get a hit with someone on base! Isn't that why you make $17 million a season?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Branstad's Major Endorsement

Former Governor Terry Branstad has a major announcement today. How do I know? A news release his campaign issued yesterday said it was "major" three different times. Branstad's Communications Director Tim Albrecht doesn't have a reputation for over-hyping too often. If that's the case and this isn't just some lame attempt to get some "free media" coverage, then who could this major endorsement be, do you think? An Iowan? A former governor? An organization? An out-of-state celebrity-type? An out-of-state, well-known politician?

The news conference is set for 1:30 this afternoon. So get your guesses in now:)

Here's Monday's release:
Branstad to announce major campaign endorsement at Statehouse news conference tomorrow

Endorsement comes less than one month ahead of June 8 primary

(URBANDALE, Iowa) – Former Gov. Terry Branstad tomorrow will announce a major campaign endorsement during a Statehouse news conference. Details are as follows:

Tuesday May 11, 2010

1:30 p.m. Gov. Branstad announces major campaign endorsement

Iowa State Capitol

Room 116

Des Moines, IA

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Utah Senator Loses Party Convention

Utah Senator Robert Bennett, a man finishing his 3rd term in office, just got quite a shock. Not only did he not win his Republican party's state convention Saturday, he finished third! Tea partiers wanted no part of him. So he looks finished. I don't know his situation well enough to see if he could try to save his skin by pulling a Charlie Christ, who switched from Republican to Independent to run for the Florida senate. Does Bennett's situation mean we can see any similar effects in Iowa? Iowa has a 7-person Republican battle right now in the state's 3rd congressional district. Although only about 4 candidates are especially active, at least from what I've seen so far. Will Iowa's Tea Party movement have enough strength to make a difference in the primary election June 8th? If so, that could really make for quite a night. Will it go to convention?

For the Love of the Game...I just don't see how my Cardinals are winning right now. I mean, I guess I do actually. It's thanks to their starting pitching. But their clutch hitting is awful, except it seems, for Yadier Molina right now. Matt Holliday also had four hits Friday night. But he has struggled mightily to get big hits when the team needs it. Surely, this team can hit better, right? I mean it's been 30 games now. That's nearly 20% of the season. Although, I guess you have to recognize the pitching's been so good for 20% of the season, too.

Vilsack for Chief of Staff?

Apparently, Rahm Emanuel has said he doubts he would stay on as President Obama's chief of staff for more than two years. Who could replace him? The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder puts former Iowa Governor and current U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on his list. Although, Ambinder adds, "It's irresponsible to speculate, perhaps, but it's fun."

Any chance?

ETC...I've really been on a healthy roll lately, fortunately:) But I woke up with a vicious cold this morning. I stopped by Walgreen's on the way to work. It's the first time I had to buy cold medicine containing pseudoephredrine since the new law went into effect where pharmacists log purchases. The pharmacy tech asked me to verify I would not be using it to make meth. That, along with the video camera pointed at me, made me feel so suspicious. I won't be making meth. I do want my nose to stop running though.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Branstad out of hospital

Former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad is out of the hospital after doctors cleared a blockage in his heart. His campaign wants the message out that he will be back on the campaign trail "soon". Expect to hear from the gov himself Friday. Branstad suffered a heart attack while working on a treadmill at the downtown Des Moines YMCA in 2000.

John Bachman, the senior anchor in our television newsroom (like you don't know who John is:), asked me if any other campaigns had sent out well-wishes for Branstad. I saw nothing from Rod Roberts or Bob Vander Plaats. Vander Plaats did send out a criticism of Branstad today with a link on Twitter.
Today, Governor Culver's office did send out a message offering well-wishes:

I hope Mr. Branstad makes a full recovery and we have him and the entire Branstad family in our thoughts and prayers. – Gov. Culver

For the Love of the Game...Boy, the Cardinals' $40 million man, Kyle Lohse, doesn't seem to be worth $40 right now. This signing has not looked good almost from the start. He stunk again on the mound today. I sure hope he or someone can get him figured out. He's by far the worst of the 5 starting pitchers and he makes WAAAAY too much money for that.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Arianna Huffington in Des Moines

(Photo Courtesy: Associated Press)

Happy Tuesday! My day feels a bit odd. I was especially curious about the turnout and what people would say at the public hearing before the Iowa Racing and Commission in Johnston today. Several busloads of people came in to support Fort Dodge's effort to get a casino. I wasn't there in person. In tv, we are in the middle of May ratings or "sweeps" as we call them. That means we air special reports. I'm working on a bunch of them right now, as well as co-hosting two candidate debates with the Des Moines Register. John Bachman and I are also hosting the three Republican candidates for governor for a special "Insiders" show. Yeah, it's a busy time! So, unfortunately, today that meant I couldn't cover the casino crowd.

I don't want to give away all of my story for next Monday night at 10. But today's interview was fascinating. I haven't been this intrigued by an interview for a while. Here's the premise of the story: we're all seeing (and many people can't stand) politicians going after each other and everything. It seems like it's worse than ever. And they can't or won't find solutions that are truly best for the country. Some people yearn for compromise and actual problem-solving. But others don't want the parties working together on anything and if they do, they commit to kicking that compromiser out of office.
Today, I talked with a CEO of a metro company that teaches people how to think. Yeah, I know, some people may think this is a bunch of bull puckey. But they get governments, non-profits, businesses, chambers of commerce, etc. to get together and re-invent the way they think their approach to problem-solving. Our conversation was tremendously interesting. My only complaint is that she had so much good stuff, it will never all fit into our story! But that's a good problem to have. Actually, it's a great problem to have. More on the story later...

This afternoon, I'm headed over to interview Arianna Huffington. I've never talked with her before and will be curious what she has to say. She is headlining the Planned Parenthood of the Heartland's annual fundraiser tonight.


For the Love of the Game... My Cardinals continued their roll last night in Philadelphia. Their rookie lefty Jaime Garcia continues to make them look like a genius for letting him make the opening day roster. But did you see the craziness that happened? Some idiot ran out of the stands and onto the field. For his stupidity, he got some claps, some boos and some tasering. A police officer tasered him right there on the field! I say, good call. If that guy is dumb enough to break the law and run onto the field, he deserves what he good. Let's not forget the mentally-disturbed guy who ran out and stabbed tennis star Monica Seles and that idiot who tacked the first base coach of the Kansas City Royals. People know they can't get on the field and when they do, they ought to get punished. I've never been tasered, but it sounds to me like the punishment fits the crime. Some people disagree though. They think it's going too far in this case, since kids were in the stands and had to see this happen (it didn't particularly graphic to me). What do you think? Here's the video:

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Iowa Republican Governor Candidates' Final Notes, Thoughts, Observations

I hope my random shorthand made sense if you followed along during the Iowa Republican candidates for governor debate here in Cedar Rapids. Now, that we've finished our stories for the news broadcasts tonight, I thought I would throw out a few other items from the day.

All three candidates said they would get rid of the exemption for casinos and include them in the statewide smoking ban. Will Republican statehouse candidates campaign on this?

All three candidates said they were opposed to state funding for pre-school. Will they support pulling out ALL funding immediately for it when they take office?

Vander Plaats said Iowa should have immigration law like Arizona. Roberts and Branstad both said Iowa isn't Arizona. Roberts added that's where the cost would be to Iowa...following Arizona might mean locking up suspected illegal immigrants for up to 6 months. What specifically will the candidates propose in handling the illegal immigrants who are already here?

Vander Plaats stuck by his executive order to stop same-sex marriages. Branstad again criticized it. Roberts ignored it. No candidate who has been in the race for governor, including the ones who dropped out, say what Vander Plaats wants to do is legal. Will he stick with this idea throughout the campaign?

Branstad called Culver "reckless and irresponsible" nearly half a dozen times. Can we plan on hearing this again and again through the election?

He also said he agreed with Representative Roberts probably that many times, too. What did the campaign staffs think of that?

He said he agreed with Vander Plaats zero times, as I recall. Does that surprise any one?

I'll be curious if there will be any fallout from Vander Plaats' comment when asked whether the state should have any role in fighting obesity. He said, "I do believe this is role for the governor in this area to be a model about nutrition, as well. I try to run 25 miles a week." VP added that he has given up his nightly ice cream and will celebrate with "a cold one" (ice cream, that is) when he wins the nomination. I wonder what his big donors, the Wells family, think of his no ice cream sacrifice! They own Wells Blue Bunny Ice Cream. Does this comment go too far poking fun at Culver? Or don't Iowans take it that way?

And, of course, then there was the drama. Vander Plaats came after Branstad for supporting Nebraska's Democratic Senator Ben Nelson years ago. Branstad jumped in and said he never went to Nebraska to do it and he added he wasn't in office when he gave the endorsement. I will try to attach the video of the spat when it gets loaded to the website. The drama continued after the debate ended and after the handshakes between candidates. You could hear Branstad yelling, "Look it up. Look it up" to Vander Plaats about the history of when then-State Senator Steve King sued then-Governor Tom Vilsack. Do Branstad supporters think it's a good idea for him to engage in this back-and-forth with Vander Plaats when Branstad is the understood front-runner in the race? Or do they think it's one of those times he needs to call out Vander Plaats for what he thinks are mis-statements and to show he does have the fire in him to run for office again?

Ah, a little drama. Roberts took the chance to mention that he could unite the party and that's what Iowa wants. He also added he is the Republican Chet Culver fears most. Is that true, Governor Culver?

Culver was watching Paddy O'Prado finish third at the Kentucky Derby in Louisville. His staff did send out a few statements on his behalf, one from his governor's office and one from his campaign office. The one from his governor's office commended the correctional officers in Fort Dodge during that attack there this morning:

DES MOINES -- Governor Chet Culver today issued a statement commending state employees at the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility for their prompt and appropriate actions in response to a series of assaults on three correctional officers by two inmates on Friday night.

“Conduct such as this by prison inmates will simply not be tolerated,” said the Governor. “We are fortunate to have employees at our correctional institutions who face very challenging situations every day—and, who do their jobs well.”

In telephone calls to Department of Corrections Director John Baldwin and to Danny J Homan, President of AFSCME Iowa Council 61, the Governor today expressed his concerns about the injured state employees and his support for prison management personnel and correctional officers at the Fort Dodge and other Iowa correctional facilities.

The Fort Dodge Correctional Facility is currently under lockdown status following the assaults which occurred at approximately 9:39 P.M., Friday April 30. The three officers assaulted received immediate medical attention for cuts and bruises to the facial area.

The Governor will be briefed by Department of Corrections officials upon a completion of the review now being conducted about the incident.
The other came from his campaign office and criticized the Republicans in the debate:

This was just another forum where the candidates outlined big tax cuts for their corporate Republican donors without details about where or how they would make cuts and balance the budget. They pandered to their special interests with more tax cuts and proposed increased spending but with a lack of specifics about how they would pay for it. All three candidates were for cutting preschool for Iowa's children in the age when they have the most learning capacity while rewarding out-of-state corporations with more tax breaks.

"None of these candidates have answered the ultimate question of how they would manage to balance the budget today and that is the definition of 'reckless and irresponsible.' That leaves the assumption that Terry Branstad would again keep two sets of books and use his accounting tricks to hide the deficit. Branstad was long on hyperbole but short on the facts and new ideas. Branstad must have forgotten, or hopes that we've forgotten, he made a few across the board cuts during his tenure as governor. It is sadly par for the course that Terry Branstad attacks others for the same things he has done before."
That's it for now. We have a long drive back to Cedar Rapids ahead of us. If you watched the debate, let me know what you thought of it.

Thanks for reading.

iowa Republican Governor Candidates' Debate

final comments...

bvp...iowa needs new leadership. i'm positive and optimistic. i'm very persistent. will confront the real facts. time we had a ceo from the private sector not the public sector

rr...iowans want someone grounded in common sense. chet culver knows i can united republicans and can offer message that will attract independents and democrats. it's time for new leadership. i ask for your vote.

tb...iowans are concerned about governor culver's reckless and irresponsible leadership. can lead the comeback. i want to lead this state. i have set ambitious goals. he asked iowans for their vote.

that's a wrap! we're headed to see what they say in the "post-game". i'll have more observations a bit later tonight.

thanks for reading. please let me know what you thought of what you saw, heard and read today.

iowa Republican Governor Candidates' Debate

is there a role gov should play in insurance rates

rr...i think it's important for people you put in positions to let them make their decisions. let insurance commission to be the director of that.

tb...the gov should not be second guessing the decision of insurance commissioner.

bvp...i agree with representative roberts and former governor branstad.

iowa Republican Governor Candidates' Debate

would you drop exemption for smoking on casino floors?

bvp..i think this is the height of government arrogance. if we're not going to make this across the board, then let the marketplace decided. of reasons i voted no. it was the height of hypocrisy. i would also make gaming floors exempt.

tb...i would sign legislation. i moved ashtrays out of terrace hill and eliminated cigarette sales in statehouse.

iowa Republican Governor Candidates' Debate

do you believe obesity is a government problem?, i don't think govt should mandate what foods you should buy. i do like what hy-vee is doing (labeling nutrition values of their foods). we ought to say if you do the wrong thing, you should pay more for insurance. but government should not mandate for foods you should buy., i don't think govt should be in business of mandating. i do believe there is a role for governor to do model. i run 25 miles a week. i like pizza. i like ice cream every night. but i gave it up until i can celebrate when i when.'s not the role of government to get involved in people's lives.

iowa Republican Governor Candidates' Debate

would same sex marriage still be a priority when you take office...

rr...iowans say it will still be a priority with them. restrain this uncontrollable spending. see businesses expand.

tb...people of iowa deserve to vote on issue of this magnitude. my priority will be on jobs. but i'm also responsive to people. people do deserve right to vote on one man, one woman. need to get republicans in the house and senate.'s about leadership. bvp and tb start fighting again. branstad says he's wrong.

iowa Republican Governor Candidates' Debate

same sex marriages

bvp...i have been the only candidate to say we need to hold supreme court in check. place executive order. this is a freedom issue

rr...i think the harm that's been done is the response of iowans who are unhappy they haven't allowed to weigh in. let us vote. it's the right thing to do. it's the respectable thing to do.

tb...what bob is advocating won't hold up. vander plaats tries to interrupt. i agree with rep. roberts. the final say should be with the people.

iowa Republican Governor Candidates' Debate

will you urge your supporters to support the nominee?

tb...of course...i'm a team player. under culver we have reckless and irresponsible spending

bvp...i have proven to be a team player. i have never endorsed a democrat. but i believe you endorsed ben nelson..branstad says....i never endorsed . i was out of office then....this is supposed to be about issues (the two are going back and forth pretty hard here. it's our first bit of drama here).

rr...i will certainly support the nominee. iowans are looking for a conservative governor. it's important that republicans be united. i believe i am best to unite.

iowa Republican Governor Candidates' Debate

aren't there budgetary burdens of taking over immigration enforcement

rr...if we follow arizona law here and we imprison illegal immigrants for up to six months, that's where the cost is for state government. 30-50,000 illegal immigrants in iowa.

tb...meth and other illegal drugs costing us now that smuggled in illegally. we need to keep pressure on federal government to live up to their responsibility. need to make sure we are effectively dealing with safety and well being of our citizens

bvp...i'm tired of relying on the federal government. you'll never be right when you do what's wrong. i think we will save money if we hold people who are here illegally accountable.

iowa Republican Governor Candidates' Debate

should children of illegal immigrants get in-state tuition businesses are not ins agents. hold businesses that knowingly hired illegal immigrants accountable. (roberts looked at bvp...first time i have noticed him looking at him during these first almost 50 minutes of debate)

rr...if you eliminate state benefits and they can't get jobs, they will leave. deal with the adults who are here illegally. that will address illegal immigration problem.

tb...children of people who are here illegally should not get in-state tuition. i also agree with rep. roberts, the state should verify people are here legally to qualify for state benefits.

iowa Republican Governor Candidates' Debate

how can immigration be used to repopulate?

tb...we don't want people coming here illegally. we don't want them to take welfare and medicaid and iowa cares money away from our citizens. we don't want sanctuary cities. we're not arizona. we need to do something that fits the needs of our state.

bvp...there's nothing honorable about begin here illegally. gov branstad is right, but illegal is illegal. hold those here illegally accountable.

rr...iowa has always been a very welcoming place. one of the reasons is that iowans like americans...highly value and prize the meaning of citizenship. those who come and work hard and become citizens, they highly prize that highly important status. citizens of this state are not obligated to provide benefits to people here illegally. require people to verify who they are. and businesses should verify people are here legally. if they don't do that, there should be punitive...

iowa Republican Governor Candidates' Debate

will you support iowa values fund and iowa power fund...

rr...tendency of state government, if given the resources, will craft new programs. we need to take a serious look. where it's des moines trying to stimulate economy.

tb...i agree with rep roberts. level the playing field. if we could reduce corporate tax rates, i think we could have growth and generate jobs and keep young people here.

bvp...let me attempt to answer the question. the values fund i don't think is the right approach. the cost has been exhorbitant (for iowa values fund) we need to go from e-10 to e-20 (ethanol fuel blend)

iowa Republican Governor Candidates' Debate

state tax credits...what tax credit if you could have one and take one away...which one would you have...

bvp...need to get state out of tax credits...see iowa become startup capitol of the world. cut capitol gains taxes from 8.9 to 3.5 percent. will take leadership and a governor that will market state as right to work state.

rr...targeted tax credits. state has been picking winners and losers. would be far better to eliminate that approach in time...simply eliminating tax on business. i was the first to eliminate corporate income tax. we have to do things dramatically different.

tb...targeted tax credit for movie making mistake. another example of reckless and irresponsible of culver. we don't need to give away tens of millions of dollars. the industrial job tax credit administered by community college...shouldn't eliminate. shouldn't cut research tax credit.

iowa Republican Governor Candidates' Debate

will you pledge to provide state funding for flood recovery?

tb...i don't think it should be just the state's responsibility (to help cedar rapids recover from flooding) i have some real misgivings about saying we will go to 500 year flood situation as opposed to 100 year. what is fair? what is cost effective way? want to see czech and slovac museum funded. my way is part slovac. there can't be a blank check given.

bvp...the flood was worst natural disaster in our state's history. come alongside the local community and see what we can do. but do a cost benefit analysis. need a governor who can balance the budget. governor culver should have called special session to say all hands on deck.

rr...most iowans can't comprehend damage to cedar rapids. you can't fully understand the damage until you see the families. when the flood occurred, culver should have called legislature into special session to appropriate every dollar out of economic emergency fund. culver used only 50 million out of the 150 million. every dollar should have been appropriated.

iowa Republican Governor Candidates' Debate

besides pre-school, how do we get the best money for our money in education...

rr...iowans highly value a good high quality education. as our local schools go, so go our towns...main streets. state should focus resources we have on public safety, access to justice, econ development and education should focus on things most important to children. my daughter is a teacher in waukee. she is here today. we need to reduce some of mandates on some of school districts. we need to reduce some of administrative and overhead costs. reward good teachers. have uniform assessments.

bvp...need to get arms around k-12 education. i used to be a teacher. i used to a principal. in the 1990s we started growing bureaucracy. need to simplify. simplify the funding back to local school districts. how about we do something novel? let's let the teachers teach.

Iowa Republican Governor Candidates' Debate

should the state be involved with public funding of pre-school...

bvp...we need to decide who's responsible for educating children. i would grow the economy so parents can decide whether one parent can stay home in the early years to raise children. the current funding, 110 million, is not sustainable some point economy would have a slowdown and we would have problem paying for pre-school. it's a classic example of government going too far with program we can't afford. would have been better off for private providers to provide the quality education for 4 year olds.

tb...i agree with rep roberts (i think this is the 3rd time he has said that so far in the questions) i don't think government should take over education of 3 and 4 yr olds. it's a terrible mistake for state to take over massive obligations we can't afford.

Iowa Republican Governor Candidates' Debate

do we have the right mix of state funding for education?

tb...i never got my last school loan until i was governor. wreckless spending by culver. give programs too much money then cut 10% off. wreckless.

bvp...higher ed is one thing we should be extremely proud colleges fill huge void. iowa needs ceo who can manage more with less. of the regents was for the public to give the most of the funding toward education. as gov my goal is make sure there is no more than 50% of funding that comes from tuition. to be truly public, the public needs to provide the bulk of the money. in-state students shouldn't pay higher rate than out of state or international students.

Iowa Republican Governor Candidates' Debate

name one service govt provides today that it shouldn't

rr...illegal immigration...deny benefits to adults who are here illegally. when person applies for benefits through dept of human services they have to provide a verifiable social security number

tb...should not provide funding for organizations for abortions services. go through every single item in budget. need to make tough decisions. reduce administrative costs.

bvp...this is kind of fun because i agree with both of my peers. shouldn't provide services to illegal immigrants. i would provide arizona's immigration as iowa's next immigration policy. no funding for planned parenthood. look at university pre-school.

IA GOP candidates debate

culver pledged to reform property taxes and didn' t do it...

bvp...says it's a great question. ask your local school board if they will have to raise property taxes. they will say "yes". taxes have become impediment to business growth. have to take hard look at what property taxes should pay for. i think state should provide more funding for property tax relief. have conversation with iowans about how to find new ways to pay for services.

tb...culver got nothing done on property taxes.

Iowa Republican Governor Candidates' Debate

Hi from the Marriott Hotel in Cedar Rapids. Our internet connection is undoubtedly overloaded, but it's working so far. So let's hope it holds out for the next hour.

I'll blog in shorthand... Here we go!

was culver's 10% across the board cut good decision?

roberts--should have called lawmakers back in special session.

vander plaats said 10% not leadership. takes no intellectual firepower. bvp said fund the classroom, not the bureaucracy. roberts answer and bvp's answers sound very similar to what they've said since culver made the cut.

branstad said it was wreckless and irresponsible. put state in debate with bonding plan (i-jobs) culver ignored repubs concerns about his spending. should have called legislators back into special session. put burden on school districts